Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Friday, May 08, 2009

MiFi Portable Wifi will be My Next New Toy

How would you like a WiFi connection anywhere you go?

Last December I put together a list of predictions for 2009. One of the things I wrote about was the increase in using 3G type cell networks instead of WiFi Networks when traveling.

3G Networks When Traveling
I have discovered when I travel Wi-Fi coverage can be spotty. Hotels boast high speed Wi-Fi connections but they aren’t doing a very good job. Even at a recent Microsoft conference I ended up using my Verizon EV-DO connection because it was faster than the Wi-Fi provided. Currently the best reason to use 3G over WiFi is security. Keep your WiFi networking at home and use 3G when you travel.

After traveling again earlier this year, I’m even more convinced you can’t depend on public hotspots and found my Verizon USB modem more dependable. It could be I always request rooms in quiet locations away from the elevator but the WiFi has consistently been poor.

Today Verizon announced my next new toy. The MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot will be available on May 17th and will be in my hands soon after. A creation of Novatel, the MiFi 2200 is a portable WiFi HotSpot that weighs only 2.05 ounces and will fit in your shirt pocket.  It uses the Verizon 3G broadband mobile network.

Verizon MiFi
Verizon MiFi 2200

According to the published specs, the MiFi has a battery life of 4 hours and includes a USB connection which will provide additional power on the road. Up to 5 WiFi devices can use the MiFi for an internet connection.

From Verizon’s Press Release
The MiFi 2200 will be available online and in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores for $99.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement. Customers can select from various price plans:

  • $39.99 monthly access for 250 MB monthly allowance and 10 cents per megabyte overage
  • $59.99 monthly access for 5 GB monthly allowance and 5 cents per megabyte overage

Customers can also use the MiFi 2200 with Verizon Wireless’ Mobile Broadband DayPass for $15 for 24-hour access when the device is purchased at full retail price without a monthly service plan.

I first learned about the MiFi from David Pogue who wrote more about the MiFi for the NY Times. He says a 1 hour TV show on iTunes is 200 megabytes  which calculates to 25 shows a month if you’re on the 5 GB plan.  I agree 5 GB a month is plenty of bandwidth for me.

So why am I so excited? I already pay $60 a month for a USB modem that only works on a single laptop.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m happier when I use Verizon 3G network when traveling. Recently, I shocked fellow travelers at Dulles Airport when I connected to my home Slingbox and watched a show I had previously recorded on my TiVo. The video quality was great which you might not expect for a cell network.  If I’m traveling with others, theyll be able to use my MiFi hotspot at no extra charge.

I love using my Apple iTouch.  Unfortunately, once I leave my home WiFi network I can’t connect to many online services like Facebook or Twitter. Now with MiFi in my pocket my iTouch will have all the benefits I would want in an iPhone but I can keep the 32 GB of  memory available in the iTouch.

Verizon also claims that MiFi will be for cameras. I do have an EyeFi SD card in my camera but I’m not counting on a connection right out of the box.  Once I get my own MiFi, I’ll let you know how it really works.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, you've convinced me! My 2 years is up and I'm going to order my MiFi tommorrow!

Ernie A

9:21 PM  

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